Zubby Newsletter #35: A Brutal Battle Looms

Heroic Signatures and Titan unleash the power of Conan on Free Comic Book Day again in 2024, and this time it’s also the first part of an epic event we’re calling BATTLE OF THE BLACK STONE!

Peep that killer cover art by Ravishing Rob De La Torre!
Also, peep those weapons fanned out in front…
Can you guess their wielders?

The press release went out late last week, but with the Savage Sword relaunch covers and solicit info released one day earlier I wanted to make sure I gave this announcement extra space here in my newsletter.

Bound in Black Stone is the first arc of the new Conan the Barbarian comic series and, in addition to acting as our ‘mission statement’, it set the table for some big mythic ideas we want to dig into outside the monthly title.

Conan creator Robert E. Howard wrote 21 canon Conan stores (along with a series of unfinished fragments), but he also wrote several hundred other pulp stories across many genres – mystery, horror, historical adventure, westerns, and, of course, sword & sorcery. A lot of these stories are completely separate from each other, but some have unexpected connectivity between them-

The shared timeline with Kull the Conqueror’s Thurian Age predating Conan’s Hyborian Age is well known in fan circles, but less well known are threads like an Atlantean necromancer (who seems to line up with Thulsa-Doom) being resurrected into the ‘modern’ era in the 1929 noir story Skull-Face, Kull of Atlantis being pulled through time to team up with Bran Mak Morn in the 1930 story Kings of the Night, or Thoth-Amon’s fabled Serpent Ring at the center of a 1934 horror story called The Haunter of the Ring.

Kings of the Night title art from Weird Tales, November 1930.

Whether these crossovers were intended as part a larger plan or were just Two-Gun Bob reusing elements and names he liked, they tease the potential for a rich tapestry of pulp adventure that spans the ages.

The Conan the Barbarian monthly comic series is firmly rooted in classic sword & sorcery adventure (and always will be as long as I’m writing it) but with an event like Battle of the Black Stone we get the chance to explore epic pulp concepts (fantasy, noir, historical adventure, eldritch horror, and more) and a cast of engaging characters across different time periods and milieus.

Jonas Scharf has been turning heads on books like Dark X-Men, Avengers of the Wastelands, and The Witcher, and I am so pumped to have him drawing our Free Comic Book Day special and Battle of the Black Stone event mini-series. His moody page art fits the Robert E. Howard pulp atmosphere to a tee. I know readers are going to love the way he depicts the Hyborian Age and many other ages as well.

This isn’t art from Black Stone, I just want to show off Jonas’ inspiring inkwork.

Conan has crossed over with other characters before but he’s never really fronted an event until now. Given the character’s 90 year prose publishing pedigree and 50 years in comics, I think it’s more than overdue.

I’ve always wanted to write a long run on a comic series and also been champing at the bit to build a big event story. Getting to do both with some of my favorite fictional characters is a dream come true.

Obviously I’ll have a lot more to say about Battle of the Black Stone (BoBS?) in the weeks and months to come, but it’s nice to finally have this Free Comic Book Day issue announced so everyone can see why we’re so excited for 2024 and beyond.

Conan Conquers – Let’s Talk About It!

I spoke to Perch all about the Conan relaunch and incredible response we’ve seen from readers and retailers. It’s a fun interview with lots of enthusiasm about where we’re at and what’s coming up.

This is the fourth time Perch, Joe Corallo, and I have chatted about comics on his channel and each interview covers great material in terms of the wider industry, the creative process, marketing, strange anecdotes, and more.

If you want to check out our previous interviews, here they are: firstsecondthird.

Into the Crucible Concluded Three Years Ago

Now on my Patreon – the full script for Conan the Barbarian #16 from 2020, the final part of Into the Crucible: patreon.com/posts/conan-barbarian-92363454

Also included in this update are my outline-pitch for the story and the Uttan ‘vocabulary’ I created so the language stayed consistent even though Conan (and our readers) couldn’t understand it.

Putting our hero in a place where he couldn’t comprehend the local language was something I hadn’t seen in a Conan story before. The Cimmerian has to use his intuition and guile just as much as his sword arm. Building up threats and constructing this language was a difficult-but-fun writing challenge.

The Conan comic relaunch at Heroic Signatures/Titan is getting a fantastic response and I’m incredibly thankful. If readers check out some of my earlier Conan comic writing work because of it as well, that’s really cool too. Despite problems we had around the original release (2020 was a rough ride, as you all know) I’m still really proud of these stories.

Links and Other Things

  • Colleen Doran’s new posts where she looks back at her career in comics and delivers helpful advice about publishing and publisher contracts are a must read for any industry professional. Very Bad Publishers Part 1Part 2Part 3. I also recommend you subscribe to her newsletter so you won’t miss any newer posts as it continues.
  • On the new Second Wind channel, JM8 has some great analysis about level design in the Souls games and what a lot of other video game developers get wrong when they try to emulate it in their own Souls-like titles.
  • Samwise Didier, the iconic concept artist from Blizzard, announced his retirement from the company so he can focus on his own original creative projects. I’m excited to see what he has cooking.

That should cover it for this week. Thank you for reading!

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